‘The Last Duel’ review: A historical epic thriller that triples the fun with multiple events in a 14th century showdown.
I’d like to see a documentary on how the fantastic, epic, and bloody historical drama “The Last Duel” came to be, given the work of legendary director Ridley Scott (“Gladiator”, “Alien”, “Blade Runner”) from a screenplay by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (first collaboration). (they have since Good Will Hunting) and Nicole Holofsner, the illustrious director who has defined recent screenplays for films like “Lovely and Amazing” and “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” As far from the mud, porridge and dirt of the Hundred Years’ War as you can get. Who wrote what and how this collaboration came together?
Also, our fictional documentary should include a segment dedicated to wigs. Oh my, wigs.
Filled with great performances, stunning cinematography, and expertly crafted battle sequences that put you right there in the midst of terrible mayhem, Gladiator-style, “The Last Duel” is an unabashedly ancient and satisfying tale rich in nobles and peasants, hedonists and intellect, of valiant knights and predators – and of course There’s a love story, too, and while it seems at first the stuff of fairy tales, let’s just say it doesn’t work out the way you might expect.
“The Last Duel” is one of those movies set in late medieval France and all the main characters are French and have names like Jacques and Jean and Pierre – but everyone speaks English (except for a few broken lines and a song) and most of the time they don’t even care about French dialects, and we We just follow it because since we have a voice in the cinema we have films in foreign lands where everyone spoke King’s English.
After a prologue in which two players geared up for a duel as if they were NFL players fit for Sunday’s game of the week, we plunged into a fight with Matt Damon’s Jean de Caroze defying orders and ordering his men to beat it. These people pour in and save – and during a violent clash that leaves corpses and mutilated soldiers littered all over the place, Jean saves the life of his longtime friend, Jacques Le Grace (Adam Driver, who seems to be the most handsome cast member of an especially flashy league and dinner troupe of ages). middle). Jean de Carouge is a real hero!
At least that’s how the story appears in the first third of the story, which is told from Jane’s point of view. With Damon wearing one of the most unfortunate guns in film history and a hateful spider web from a scar on his cheek, a savage but brave Jean finds himself at odds with the powerful, wealthy and fun-loving Count Pierre de Lincoln (the funny Ben Affleck), almost unrecognizable by the shadow of his hairdo. The Beatles’ bleached blonde hair) and eventually with Le Gris, who became a sort of advisor to Count Pierre and always worked from an angle to frustrate the uneducated and unsophisticated Jean.
When Jean the Knight newly weds a disgraced noble’s daughter, Margaret the Beautiful (Jodie Comer), thus claiming her dowry, Jeanne appears to have achieved everything he wanted – but when Jean goes to fight another battle for the homeland and the king, Le Gris makes his way home and rapes Marguerite . While most sexual assault victims remain quiet, Margaret tells her husband and then announces the accusation, which leads to a trial in which it is decided to duel Jean and Lou Grace to the death. If Jean died, Margaret would be tortured and executed because that would “prove” that she was lying. If Le Gris falls, Jean and Marguerite will be acquitted and will be free to live their lives.
“The Last Duel” changes perspectives two more times – first to view events from Le Gris’ POV, and then, in the final chapter, through the eyes of Marguerite. This ‘Rashomon’ technique is put to great use, as we see Jean transform from a mighty warrior – depicted in close-up shots, with the camera often tilted to show his greatness – into a lump, butt of jokes, a monster who treats Margaret only slightly better than his horses. (And in fact, when Le Gris is accused of a crime, it is not classified as an assault on Marguerite; it is a violation of another man’s property.)
There is no mystery about rape. Although Le Gris maintains that it was consensual, even when viewed from his point of view, the attack is rape. Margaret has to put up with so personal and insulting questions in court that even her circle of friends doesn’t believe her, and her reputation on the line has obvious and relevant similarities to #MeToo. Jodie Comer does a great job playing a woman who has endured her age and is stuck in that world, yet has an even bigger heart and bravery like all those men killing each other on the battlefield.
Nothing is hidden in “The Last Duel”. Almost everything about “The Last Duel” is brutally effective.